Killifish are not well known in the mainstream aquarium hobby and are seldom seen in local fish stores, but they are some of the most colorful freshwater aquarium fish in existence. Members of the family Cyprinodontidae, these distant relatives of mollies, guppies, swordtails and platies are known collectively as egg laying tooth carp. Most killifish live 2 to 5 years in aquariums. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about killifish is their different spawning methods, which separate them into three basic groups: annuals, semi-annuals and non-annuals. In the wild, annuals live in temporary pools that dry up each year for periods up to 6 months.
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There are certain fishes in the aquarium world that will simply grab ahold of your attention and not let go. For me, it's been characins and killifish. Yeah, killifish! The seemingly forgotten, yet utterly engrossing group with amazing colors, diverse spawning habits, and adaptability should make them some of the most popular fishes in the hobby!
To me, the reasons above and many others have kept them "top of mind" for me over the years, even though I may not always have kept them consistently. Their relative difficulty to obtain has sort of added to the mystique for me. That and the fact that they typically will not have "common names", and are generally referred to by their scientific name, followed by a geographic locale and some other numbers makes them all the more alluring to me! Yet, I digress I mean, shit - there's like 0.
Yet, the precise Latin descriptors and type localities bely a secret to those who do the work And to those of us who strive to replicate- on many levels- the wild habitats from which our fishes come from, this stuff is pure GOLD! And of course, one of the things I like best about killifishes is that many come from habitats that would be perfect for us to replicate with our skills and interest.
Hobbyists who keep killies may not be as into the aesthetics of blackwater or botanical-style aquariums as we are, but nonetheless, they understand the dynamics of using natural botanical materials like peat moss, coir, and leaves to stimulate spawning and provide health benefits for their fishes! Perhaps what also attracts me to them is the fact that they are for the most part small, super-colorful fishes who have managed to adapt and evolve to life in very unusual environmental niches, like puddles, small creeks, temporary pools- stuff like that.
The killies are intimately linked to the characteristics of their habitats, and the seasonal changes which impact them. Interestingly, we have seldom, if ever seen them being kept in anything other than a dedicated breeding setup with spawning mops and bare bottoms. I think this has perpetuated the popular perception that they require the dreaded "specialty conditions" hobby vernacular for "weird shit that's hard to do And of course, this pretty much scares the crap out of the typical armchair hobbyist.
I think that attempting to replicate, to some extent, the aquatic habitats from which they come would go a long way towards making these adaptable and attractive fishes more popular in the hobby! How you manage your interpersonal relationships is your call- but I think we make it a bit easier with our approach, right?
Sure, some may be shy, skittish, aggressive, come from soft, acidic water, brackish! And we're into some pretty geeky stuff, ourselves, right? We often hear the argument that they are not particularly prolific breeders, or don't live too long in the case of "annual" species, sure I think that's a really lame excuse not to keep them! My other "counterpunch" here is that, curiously, we're seeing more and more wild Betta species showing up in local fish stores worldwide Really friggin' obscure ones, too And they are finding a place in botanical-style, blackwater aquariums!
Mike PA Calnun's African killie and Neolebias biotope-inspired aquarium is a fantastic example of the possibilities that await the adventurous killie enthusiast when we step out of the box a bit!
I simply don't think that we as killie fans have done a great job "de-mystifying" these fishes and their needs. Now, there are literally hundreds of species of killies to choose from, running the gamut from top-spawning species which deposit eggs in floating plants, to the famous South American and African annuals, which deposit their eggs in the mud and sediments at the bottom of the temporary pools which they inhabit, so it would be impossible to "generalize" a biotope-inspired "generic" setup for all these types.
However, one could create a more-or-less "generalized" setup for say, species which come from small African streams and pools. For many of the Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax species, you can replicate their leaf-and branch-choked habitats with, well- leaves and branches! And seed pods, and a few aquatic and even terestrial plants. We do this shit pretty well already Researching the flora and aquatic topography of areas in Camaroon and Nigeria can yield lots of great information which you can use to create some really cool tanks!
In general, Africa has been, in my opinion, under-represented in our aquariums, and killies represent an amazing opportunity to learn more about these habitats and the unique fishes which inhabit them. Many of these streams and pools feature muddy or fine-sediment materials on the substrate. You could replicate this with many of the planted aquarium substrates, mixed in with more common materials like sand and even our "Fundo Tropical" and "Susbtrato Fino" additives, or the more "igapo-specific" substrates we'll be releasing soon With some good research and study, it is entirely possible to create remarkably realistic and functionally aesthetic aquariums for many species of killifish.
We just need to get the fishes. And you can, easily, from breeders in places like AquaBid, or; go all the way and join The American Killifish Association and really get to know some of the amazingly skilled hobbyists happily playing with these amazing fishes. You'll find a global community happy to lend you a hand, answer questions, and sell you some fishes or eggs to get you started on your way.
The topography and flora of Camaroon contribute significantly to the aquatic habitats of the region. Image by C. Obviously, a little blog piece like this can do little more than call some quick attention to the possibilities that are out there for this approach. My hope is that more of you will utilize the skills you've acquired at both keeping and breeding fishes and working with botanical-style aquariums.
By marrying these two skill sets, the possibilities which can unfold are many! We just need to get out there, do a little research, and get a tank or two going. Oh- and we need to share this work. On the "big stage"- the more generalized hobby world-outside of dedicated hardcore killie forums and pages. Let's look at some of these unique fishes and the habitats from which they come, and give them more of the attention they deserve in the hobby!
Killies can totally be getting their fair share of expose to the larger hobby world. Killie lovers need to let go of era excuses and complaints about why they aren't out there, and simply share these fishes in more unique, relatable ways. We can't keep "self-medicating" on excuses and complain about it when the opportunity is there to "blow up" interest in these fishes!
There's these platforms called ""Facebook and "Instagram" and "Snapchat"- crazy-ass ways to spread ideas quickly We should look 'em up once in a while, post something on a general hobby-interest forum- like a pic and descriptions of a cool display tank with killies- and get people talking. Why aren't we doing this? I won't accept the excuse that, "Oh, I tried it before but no one was interested.
Hmm, sounds like what was said about And their unique reproductive strategies as in the case of annual species and "bottom spawners" are amazing in and of themselves. Oh, and you can economically purchase most of them as eggs in water or peat moss and raise them from fry yourself, easily and sustainably, as touched on before. One of the worst-kept hobby "secrets" there is, IMHO. And these fishes are OUT there. Hello, American Killifish Association! Hello, killie hobbyist forums on Facebook.
Hello Aqua Bid! I can see how some people might take this little kick in the ass in the wrong way- but I think that this "tough love" and request for us to look at what we're not doing well enough- from a big fan, no less- is warranted. I just get tired of hearing the same excuses for stuff with no new action being taken- especially when the excuses are made by incredibly talented people who can bring so much to the table We all should be. Killifish are some of the absolute best examples of sustainability, responsibility, and dedication that the aquarium world has to offer.
They teach patience, inspire research, and are an amazing group of fishes to specialize in. Glad you happened upon this piece! Like you, I adore these fishes and constantly ask if there is another way to keep them which can have mass appeal.. I think keeping them in systems designed to highlight their habitats is a good starting point!
Exactly the article Ive been looking for. Ive been an aquarist since childhood. Ive feared turning into an old kili guy with boxes of tiny fish in an unlit basement apologizing to anyone who comes in my fishroom for not seeing anything but tiny brown sticks…….. Im getting the fever… help me there must be another way!!!!!!!! Life", and "Tannin Aquatics" are registered trademarks of Tannin Aquatics. Menu Cart.
Continue Shopping Your Cart is Empty. August 04, 2 comments Share:. The great killifish conundrum Yet, they're most definitely NOT. Chromaphyosemion bivittatum , pic by Mike PA Calnun And of course, one of the things I like best about killifishes is that many come from habitats that would be perfect for us to replicate with our skills and interest. It's utterly fascinating.
Kwango Province, Congo- Image by Thomas Minesi Interestingly, we have seldom, if ever seen them being kept in anything other than a dedicated breeding setup with spawning mops and bare bottoms.
That's where we come in. We can keep these fishes with ease, so Image by Mike PA Calnun My other "counterpunch" here is that, curiously, we're seeing more and more wild Betta species showing up in local fish stores worldwide Killies can, too. It's not. Aphyosemion over leaf litter Wamba, DR Congo- image by Ashley Gordon For many of the Aphyosemion and Fundulopanchax species, you can replicate their leaf-and branch-choked habitats with, well- leaves and branches!
We should. It just hasn't been happing Not enough, anyways. Yeah, it does. And we know how that's sort of working itself out, right?
We can do this.
Killifish Care Sheet
For this reason, Killifish enthusiasts are one of the largest groups of fish keeping enthusiasts around. Keeping fish can be a very rewarding hobby however we recommend you have at least 2 years of fish keeping experience before keeping most species of Killies. Almost all Killies are sold under their scientific names, which makes it difficult for beginners to know exactly what they are buying. Learn More: Download the Killifish Guide now to find out about their ideal tank mates, dietary and habitat needs. Cyprinodontiformes, commonly known as Killifish, is a family of fish that compromise of over species; these species are classified into ten different groups.
Guide to Killifish
Although many people think of killifish as annuals, only living for one year, a large subset of killies spawn continuously on plants and live for much longer. Learn how to keep and breed these colorful gems. They are divided into two major groups reflecting their reproductive strategies. The plant spawners inhabit permanent water and deposit their eggs in vegetation. For these types of fish, embryonic development is a continuous process.